UPDATE: Nonis will assume the full-time GM responsibilities from Burke on a permanent basis and Carlyle will remain head coach of the team. Philosophical differences between Burke and the new ownership group were offered as a main reason behind the decision. However, Burke will remain with the team as a senior adviser.
The Toronto Maple Leafs fired Brian Burke earlier today.
It’s expected that current assistant general manager Dave Nonis will take over the full-time GM responsibilities on an interim basis. Burke was GM of the Leafs for four and a half years.
An official news conference announcing the decision will run at 1:45 pm.
Nonis followed Burke from Vancouver where he was instrumental in bringing Roberto Luongo to the west coast. The preexisting relationship between Nonis and Luongo has reignited speculation that the Canucks former #1 netminder may find his way to Toronto after all.
(Would Luongo fit in Toronto? Check out this story from April 24, 2012.)
The immediate future of head coach Randy Carlyle is somewhat unclear right now, but it is important to remember that he just signed a 3-year contract with the team. I wouldn’t expect him to go anywhere.
The timing of the decision caught many people off guard, but the decisions itself shouldn’t surprise anyone.
The Phil Kessel trade will probably always hang over Burke’s head, but it must also be remembered that Burke made some good decisions while in charge of the Leafs. He is responsible for stealing guys like Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner from other teams and he gave Toronto its current captain, Dion Phaneuf. As well, Burke freed the team from many of the bad contracts that he inherited from the John Ferguson Jr.
Players like Mike Brown and Lupul – who Burke brought to town – offered many positive words for Burke. They thanked him for giving them the opportunity to play in Toronto and took some of the responsibility for his fate.
Lupul argued that if the players had performed better last season Burke would still be at the helm.
Burke helped build a strong front office for the team, which might have made it easier to dismiss him. There were reported tensions between Burke and the new ownership group of MLSE.
May be the Leafs weren’t content letting the Blue Jays get all the recent media attention? Well, if they wanted to make a statement, they certainly made one!
You can expect more on this story as it develops.
What are your thoughts? Was the right or wrong decision made?
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